- Source: Apple
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
For the first time in years, Apple equipped the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max with a different camera sensor than the standard iPhone 15 Pro. That's the start of a slew of upgrades featured on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, like an A17 Pro chip, USB-C, and an Action button. It just might be enough to make iPhone 14 Pro Max users upgrade.Pros
- Features 5x optical zoom for the first time in an iPhone
- A17 Pro chip for increased performance & efficiency
- USB-C & customizable Action button
- No significant battery improvements over 14 Pro Max
- Base model is now 256GB, but price increases by $100
Apple gave the iPhone 14 Pro Max a fresh look with the Dynamic Island last year, and it's the calling card of a brilliant 6.7-inch display. There's also an A16 Bionic processor and a camera upgrade as well. However, some of these upgrades have trickled down to the base iPhone 15 models, and the 14 Pro Max might be losing its luster.Pros
- Dynamic Island and 2,000-nit display
- A16 Bionic system-on-a-chip
- First 48MP main sensor in an iPhone
- Dynamic Island and 48MP sensor now available on base iPhone 15
- Users report iPhone 14 Pro & Pro Max batteries are aging poorly
Apple revealed a new iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max at its annual fall event at Apple Park, and it marks the first time in years that the larger model has a different feature set than the standard model. That means there is even more of a reason to consider upgrading from an iPhone 14 Pro Max to the newer version. With features like an improved camera system, USB-C connectivity, a customizable Action button, and the A17 Pro system-on-a-chip, the iPhone 15 Pro Max might be the best phone launched at Apple's event. To help you device whether the iPhone 15 Pro Max is worth the upgrade from the iPhone 14 Pro Max — or whether you should choose the cheaper model instead — we've compared the two flagship smartphones here.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Pro Max: Price, specs, and availability
Apple announced the iPhone 15 Pro Max at a September 12 event, but it won't be available immediately. Pre-orders for the device will be accepted starting September 15, with widespread availability coming the following week on September 22. The smartphone retails for $1,200, which is a hundred-dollar increase over the starting price of last year's iPhone 14 Pro Max. However, the base-model iPhone 14 Pro Max shipped with 128GB of storage while the iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at 256GB. You can upgrade the device to either 512GB or 1TB at the time of purchase for an additional fee. There are four colors of the iPhone 15 Pro Max available: Natural, Blue, White, or Black Titanium. You can get the new smartphone from Apple directly, from third-party retailers, or from the major cellular carriers.
Now that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is out, Apple has officially discontinued the iPhone 14 Pro Max. You can still get it from third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, but you won’t find new ones in Apple’s official store. There are plenty of carrier locked models available, but you might struggle to find unlocked iPhone 14 Pro Max phones in the future. Though you can get the iPhone 14 Pro Max at a discount through select carriers, the deals are actually better for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. With an eligible device to trade in, you can get up to $1,000 off an iPhone 15 Pro Max. If you do choose the 14 Pro Max, you can get it in Deep Purple, Space Black, Silver, or Gold. The smartphone can also be configured with either 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max SoC A16 Bionic Apple A17 Pro Display 6.7-inch OLED, 120 Hz, Dolby Vision HDR 6.7-inch OLED Super Retina XDR Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 256GB, 512GB, 1TB Battery 4,323mAh 4,422mAh Ports Lightning USB-C Operating System iOS 16 iOS 17 Front camera 12MP, TrueDepth, AF 12MP TrueDepth camera Dimensions 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm (6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31in) 6.29 x 3.01 x 0.32 inches (159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm) Colors Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, Black Titanium Weight 240g (8.47oz) 7.8 ounces (221g) IP Rating IP68 IP68 Price $1,099 $1,100
Design & build
Apple tweaked a lot of small things about the iPhone 15 Pro Max design, from the dimensions of the device to the charging port. From a distance, it might be hard to discern the difference between an iPhone 15 Pro Max and an iPhone 14 Pro Max. However, when you start looking at the new model up close, you’ll notice that the build is all-new. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is made out of titanium and aluminum, so it’s a lot more lightweight than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone 15 Pro Max weighs 221 grams, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro Max weighs 240 grams.
The dimensions are different too, with the iPhone 15 Pro Max being slightly shorter and narrower than the previous generation. That’s because the iPhone 15 Pro Max has thinner display bezels, so it keeps the 6.7-inch display size in a smaller overall footprint. However, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is actually thinner than the newer model, by a difference of 0.4 millimeters. Both generations have the exact same durability specifications and are certified IP68 water and dust-resistant. In simple terms, that means your phone should survive up to 30 minutes underwater in up to six meters of depth.
You’ll notice a few differences in the ports and input methods as well. The iPhone 14 Pro Max uses the classic mute switch to change the ring preferences of your smartphone, but that’s replaced by an Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro. It’s fairly similar to the Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra, and it lets you customize the button to the action of your choice. For example, it could activate the silent functionality, or it could launch the camera. Whether you prefer the mute switch or the Action button likely depends on your personal usage, as some people like the simplicity and reliability of the mute switch.
On the bottom of the iPhone 15 Pro, there’s a USB-C port for connectivity instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. If you have a lot of Apple products and accessories that use the Lightning connector, you might want to stick with the iPhone 14 Pro. However, the port is technically superior on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The included USB-C port on that device is capable of USB 3.0 data transfer speeds, while the Lightning connector on iPhone 14 Pro Max is limited to USB 2.0.
Apple introduced the Dynamic Island with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and it's here to stay on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. At launch, it'll be more useful than it was on the 14 Pro Max, due to support for third-party apps being ready to go. However, there won't be any functional differences between the Dynamic Island across the two models. The display is completely unchanged from the iPhone 14 Pro Max to the iPhone 15 Pro Max as well. Both are 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR displays with OLED panels that feature 2796x1290 resolutions. That means you'll get the same pixel density on the two generations as well, and it's 460 pixels per inch.
A year ago, peak brightness was the calling card of the iPhone 14 Pro Max display, but it isn't as differential on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The display still looks great with a peak brightness rating of 2,000 nits during outdoor use, but these brightness capabilities are now available on the base iPhone 15 models as well. However, it's worth mentioning that my iPhone 14 Pro's display has a tendency to dim significantly when the phone starts to overheat.
The display still has one leg up over the base-model iPhone 15 series: the refresh rate. Much to the ire of tech enthusiasts, Apple still sells the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus with 60Hz displays. However, on both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, you get ProMotion technology that supports variable refresh rates up to 120Hz. This also facilitates the always-on display, which works well but hinders batter life. Overall, you get a good display on either the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but they're identical. For more on Apple's display technology, you can check out our deep dive of the iPhone 14 Pro Max's display.
Performance and software
Apple changing its naming scheme with regard to mobile processors with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, so comparing the smartphone to the iPhone 14 Pro Max might be trickier than usual. However, the chip upgrade found on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the typical kind we usually see on Apple's "professional" iPhones. It's called the Apple A17 Pro, and it's a system-on-a-chip that brings increased graphical capabilities, better efficiency, and a more powerful neural engine. The A16 Bionic inside the iPhone 14 Pro Max is still more than capable in 2023, though, unless you're trying to play the AAA gaming titles slated to come to iOS in the next few months.
iPhone releases coincide with iOS software upgrades, so it makes sense that the iPhone 15 Pro Max ships with iOS 17 installed. However, the update will become available for many other compatible devices starting September 18, including the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It's worth noting that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will likely get an extra year of software support because it is newer, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max should still have years of OS upgrades left. Both phones will also get the newest iOS 17 features as well, like Live Voicemail transcription.
Despite all the upgrades coming to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple didn't spend a lot of time mentioning the battery, and that's a disappointment. First off, the upgrade to USB-C doesn't come with any implications for charging. Both the USB-C-equipped iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Lightning-enabled iPhone 14 Pro Max are limited to just 20W fast charging speeds. Plus, the battery is the exact same size between models. Even though Apple claims the A17 Pro chip is more efficient, there isn't an increase in battery life as a result. Apple says both iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max have the same 25-hour video playback rating. On the wireless charging side of things, the iPhone 15 Pro Max supports MagSafe as well as the new Qi2 wireless charging standard. The iPhone 14 Pro Max just has support for MagSafe and original Qi wireless charging.
Apple gave the iPhone 14 Pro Max a new main camera sensor last year, upgrading the smartphone with a 48MP, f/1.78 lens. This main camera is the same on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but this year, there’s a new telephoto lens. On paper, the two telephoto lenses look the same, as they’re both 12MP f/2.8 sensors. However, Apple is using a new lens technology with the telephoto camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max to enable optical zoom up to 5x. It’s not a periscope lens by definition, as leaks suggested it would be, but the new construction has that same effect. To make this bigger sensor fit, Apple flipped the telephoto and ultra-wide lens between the iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro Max.
The new telephoto lens gives the iPhone 15 Pro Max an extra, more powerful 5x optical zoom options. The rest of the rear camera system is identical to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, though. That includes the 12MP, f/2.2 ultra-wide sensor found on both iPhone models. Despite the same physical camera, you will get better performance out of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The inclusion of Apple's A17 Pro chip enables certain computational photography features, like Smart HDR 5 and advanced Portrait Mode captures. Apple also says that portraits taken with Focus and Depth Control should turn out better on the newer models. You do get Smart HDR 4 and standard Portrait Mode on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but it isn't the best Apple has to offer currently.
If you're shooting in Apple's higher-quality modes, such as ProRAW, the iPhone 15 Pro Max might be worth the upgrade. Its USB-C port capable of USB 3.0 speeds that you can transfer files as quick as 10Gb/s. When you're working with photos or videos with file sizes in the gigabytes, this can make a big difference.
On the front-facing camera, you'll find the exact same sensor on the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It's a 12MP front-facing camera with an f/1.9 aperture. Some of the advancements related to the A17 Pro are found on the iPhone 15 Pro Max here, like Smart HDR 5 for the front-facing camera. However, the experience using the front-facing camera and Face ID across the two generations will be similar overall.
Which one is right for you?
If you're planning to buy either the iPhone 15 Pro Max or the iPhone 14 Pro Max as your next smartphone, choosing the newer model is the right choice. With trade-in deals at Apple and cellular carriers, you can actually get an iPhone 15 Pro Max for cheaper than an iPhone 14 Pro Max. Plus, you'll get key improvements like an advanced telephoto camera and the newer A17 Pro processor. There's also smaller features like USB-C and the Action button, which could be influential depending on your workflow. Sometimes newer really is better, and that's the case here with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
The iPhone 15 Pro Max introduces an all-new, customizable Action button, a titanium chassis with round edges, and a USB Type-C port. It exclusively offers up to 5x optical zoom, too.
Now, if you're an iPhone 14 Pro Max user wondering whether you should upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, that is a little more complicated. You have to ask yourself how important the new telephoto lens and 5x optical zoom would be to your mobile photography needs. For some people, that feature alone will be worth the upgrade. For others, it's inconsequential to their decision. Since the iPhone 14 Pro Max still has a great processor and a quality camera system, it definitely holds up in 2023.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is Apple's biggest and best 2022 smartphone. In typical Apple fashion, it is both a powerhouse and an endurance beast, offering the A16 Bionic chip, a 6.7-inch display, and the Dynamic Island.